Collaborative Librarianship, Vol 1, No 2 (2009)

Hegemony of the West and the Librarian’s Role in the Struggle against HIV/AIDS in Africa

Emy Nelson Decker


Africa is in need of information about HIV/AIDS. Currently, librarian activists have a duty to organize, repackage, and circulate HIV/AIDS information. Unfortunately, this has led to an unintentional assertion of cultural hegemony, which operates invisibly to those who are part of the “dominant” or “dominating” culture. Unexamined assumptions of “superiority” have led to a bias that the West has the only correct method for codifying knowledge. The West cannot fairly evaluate the successes or failures of HIV/AIDS education in Africa if it only employs American ideas, categories, and sensibilities, which is detrimental to people and cultures lacking the materials needed to protect themselves. A better method is to offer information in a way that appeals to the recipients’ epistemological patterns.

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